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Future Orientation

"Students start out more stressed. They really try to do a lot of résumé building to a far larger degree than they did a decade ago. They feel pressured to achieve, achieve, achieve." Sherry Benton, assistant director of counseling services at Kansas State University and other counselors see the pressure to do well academically as a seed for anxiety and depression. Young adults start feeling pressure on their schoolwork from a young age. We get told that we need to do well if we want to achieve anything such as go to college and have a well paying career. The stress of being perfect academically takes a toll on the adolescents further affecting their future. I think that Kohls was correct that Americans still possess the value of looking to the future, but as of today it appears to be taking negative effects on futures.

When someone is stressed, their body releases neurotransmitters. This gives the person more energy and it affects critical organs. Depression results from an imbalance of neurotransmitters. For decades scholars have debated the relationship between ambition and achievement. Between the years of 1976 and 2000 the percent of seniors expecting to obtain a bachelor's degree and the percent of young adults with a four-year degree doubled. In other words, these students became a part of “ambition inflation." Unrealized educational plans are the most common prognosis that leads to depression, frustration, anxiety, and self-doubt. Many social psychological theories also predict that students whose educational plans are never realized will experience psychological distress. Negative mental health effect from failed plans is due to lower educational attainment. Nationwide, 1 in 10 are diagnosed with depression. Young adults who fail to meet their expectations are at a greater risk for poor mental health because of the gap between their plans and attainments. Life course studies show that young adults are impressively resilient to opportunity shifts and the caprices of early adulthood, a phenomenon labeled as “adaptive resilience." If a student is depressed, they are less able to achieve academically. However, it’s more likely to see people with high anxiety and depression with GPAs of 3.5 to 4.0. With a higher GPA, the pressure to keep it up is huge because the students don’t want to disappoint the people around them.
"[Increased depression] does warrant increased awareness and education in high school," says Dr. Kadison. "The number of depressed, suicidal adolescents is even more [troubling]." The sixth leading cause of death for the ages 15 to 24 is suicide. For college students, the suicide rate is higher during May, finals week, than any other time. Health experts state that existing mental-health issues, combined with academic pressure, can undermine a student’s feelings of competence and peace of mind. More students are coming to college from high school already on medication like Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft. Those medications are being prescribed increasingly for students that wouldn’t be able to handle college without. If a student is depressed, they are less likely to achieve academically. Suicidal adolescents do show warning signs. They lose interest in favorable activities, turn to substance abuse, withdraw from family and friends, their grades decline, and they lose interest in schoolwork. Teenagers start to feel like they are worthless, and that without obtaining high set goals that they have nothing to offer in life. They start harming themselves because they know that they can control it.

When stressed, teens may turn to substance abuse. More than half, about 52%, of teens are at risk. According to a study from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University there are three risk factors: stress, frequent boredom or too much spending money. Having just one of these factors endangers your well-being. Joseph Califano Jr. said that having two or all three could be “catastrophic.” Califano says, "A lot of the stress is academic. And these kids face social pressures, including the pressure to have sex." The pressure on academics on top of others is sometimes too much to take. In many cases, girls are more stressed than boys. In high-stress groups, 52% of teens have tried alcohol and 32% of teens have tried tobacco. In a low-stress group, 29% of the teens have tried alcohol and 13% of teens have tried tobacco. When asked about their stress levels, more than a fourth considered themselves having high stress. When teens are highly stressed, they are more likely to succumb to peer-pressure. A common pressure any teenager faces is drugs and alcohol. When a teenager is overwhelmed, they want to not think about it, and turning to drugs and alcohol is a common solution. Drinking alcohol or taking drugs makes your problems go away. However, when they come down from their high, the pain sets in again and they do it more and more, not wanting to overcome their pressures.


In any person’s life they’ve dealt with stress. They can vary from a job, SATs, deciding what college to attend and how to pay for it, gaining weight, and friend drama. Teens shouldn’t have to deal with these types of stresses, however, getting rid of them completely is impossible and unrealistic. A way to reduce the affects of stress is to exercise. It does not matter if you go for a walk or play a double header of lacrosse games. One reason why is because it takes your mind off of everything. When I have a big paper due at the end of a week, I get overwhelmed. When I go to my lacrosse practices, it goes away. My adrenaline starts pumping and all I focus on is the game and improving. Exercise has been proven to provide a reduction in both cardiovascular and neurological reactivity to stress. This means that exercise can help you cope with daily stresses. Exercise helps people to better adapt and react more calmly to both physical and mental stress. At the end, your mind is energized and focusing becomes a lot less trying. This was proved at Naperville Central High School. At this school they have gym class first period. Even in their classrooms, they have bikes to keep the kids moving. After running on a treadmill for 30 minutes, students do 10% better at problem solving. "It's good for attention, it's good for how fast individuals process information, and how they perform on cognitive tasks," Dr. Charles Hillman from the University of Illinois states. At Naperville Central High School their reading scores nearly doubled and their math scores went up by a factor of 20. Exercise helps increase test scores while not costing a dime.


Students nowadays feel instantly pressured right when they get into high school to achieve. At some point we all need to step back and realize it is good to set your goals high, but if you don’t achieve them to keep pressing forward. Instead of dwelling on past events, we need to keep our heads up and keep looking forward. Life is what you make it to be, not what other people place in front of you. Looking towards the future is important; it’s good to have something to reach for. Everyone just has to be sure that their goals aren’t what’s holding them back.





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